Why You Aren’t a Leader Yet and How to Become One

What you need to do differently and how to grow if you want to become a leader.


The world is full of great ideas and resources for making them happen. What’s missing is effective leaders who can take these ideas, leverage the resources available to them, and organize people to make big things happen.

The world needs more finishers and high achievers who follow the habits of highly confident people and know how to take control.

But leadership doesn’t come naturally to all of us, and not everyone finds themselves in leadership positions.

If you want to become an effective leader, there are things you can do to become one. It’s not going to happen all by itself though.

Are you looking for a promotion at work? Develop your leadership skills to put yourself in contention for a management role.

Do you own or operate a business? Study great leaders to become a stronger leader and get better results. 

Great leaders have a different mindset

Don’t be limited by what others think you can do or what you think you can do. Why can’t you be #1? Why can’t you develop people so much so that you can produce a #1 talent?

Don’t be limited by what others think you can do or what you think you can do. Why can’t you be #1? Click To Tweet

If you’re ready to learn what you need to do differently to become a top leader, you’ve come to the right place. I’ll explain why you may not be the leader you want to be yet and what areas you may need to grow.

Set Goals, Set a Deadline, and Measure Your Results

What are your goals?

Everyone has aspirations and wants to achieve greatness, but there is a difference between wanting something and having a goal in mind.

If you have something in your head that you want to accomplish, it’s not a goal. Goals are only a dream until you write them down and set a deadline.

Goals are only a dream until you write them down and set a deadline. Click To Tweet

Your deadline can be extended, but until you get one, you’ll just go in circles.

Retired NFL running back Emmitt Smith is the all-time leading rusher in NFL history. When he began his career back in 1990, he wrote that achievement down as a goal. Smith made a habit of always writing down his goals and keeping them taped to his bathroom mirror. He ultimately reached that milestone 12 years later.

People who write down their goals are more successful than those who don’t.

People with written goals are 30 times more successful than those with no goals.

If you want to be a leader, you need to have written goals.

Track your progress. Measure the results. This will help make sure that you are heading in the right direction and can achieve what you set out to accomplish.

It doesn’t matter how big or small your goal might be. Use this process for daily goals, yearly goals, and even for career goals.

Never stop and never settle. Always strive to achieve more.

Don’t Be Indifferent

Leaders care. Take your team’s success personally.

Don’t accept responsibility for projects that have no meaning for you. 

If it’s not important, you won’t care, and your people will know.

If it is important, your enthusiasm will be contagious.

People will feed off of your energy. If it’s obvious that you care about something, that gives them all the reason they need to take it seriously. 

If you’re not willing to put the effort in to take a great idea and run with it, someone else will do it.

Saying you care and actually caring are two completely different things. 

For example, someone might say they want to feed the poor, but they don’t want to get involved or be asked for any donations.

Take pride in coming up with solutions, ideas, and encouragement to keep your team moving forward when tough times come.

Be the difference maker when your team gets challenged. Stand up for them and find a solution, regardless of how much effort it takes.

If you’re always indifferent, you’ll never be a leader and won’t achieve great things.

Chase a Higher Purpose

The higher the purpose, the more effort you’ll put into making it succeed.

Stand tall when things get tough. Your people can fail without you. The only way to prove your value as a leader is when the team wins.

This is a problem I see all the time when I’m consulting with different people.

They’re chasing a position as opposed to a purpose.

This relates back to caring and setting goals. The ultimate goal might be a specific job title, position, or achievement. But what is the purpose behind that goal?

Give yourself a reason to care about it.

Your higher purpose needs to be more significant than just about the money, a bigger office, or a more prestigious title in your email signature line.

The wise man wants his life to count and wants to make a difference. He doesn’t want to live an average and ordinary life.

Know that you have a purpose, seek that purpose, and commit to it.

Know that you have a purpose, seek that purpose, and commit to it. Click To Tweet

Remember that your team wants to feel like they are a part of something, something that can make a difference. They want their efforts to count for more than just making money for the company or meeting some deadline.

If they are racing to meet a deadline, they need to know why it’s important the deadline is met and how it’s going to make a difference. 

Make decisions and actions along the way based on what will give you the best chance to become a winner.

Always Follow Through

Diving for a touchdown while being tackled.
Image source: https://siouxcityjournal.com/blogs/camera_angles/camera-angles-diving-touchdown/article_1458b393-f28c-5937-a31e-7e0f9158a879.html

Don’t make empty promises. If you say you’ll do something, do it.

A person who will not keep their commitments is useless, and that’s especially true with a leader.

Most relationships in life are based on trust, and if you don’t do what you say you are going to do, there is no way anyone can trust you.

People make the mistake of thinking that by making promises, they are helping people and making friends. But making too many promises can backfire on you.

Here’s the problem. You may not even remember that you told someone you would do something if you’re doing this on a daily basis.

Bad bosses have this habit. Employees come to them with problems, concerns, and suggestions for improvements, and they say they’ll take care of it. Then they never do anything about it.

If you’re doing this, your word becomes meaningless. Nobody is going to follow a leader they can’t trust.

I have more respect for someone that does not promise anything at all than for someone who says they are going to do something but never follows through.

Be a finisher.

I have more respect for someone that does not promise anything at all than for someone who says they are going to do something but never follows through. Be a finisher. Click To Tweet

It takes focus and precision, but you can make things happen by following through with actions.

Grit is more important than IQ on the path to success. That’s because people with grit care about everything they do on a daily basis.

Learn from Those Around You

Just because you’re the boss, owner, or in charge of people based on your title, it doesn’t automatically mean that you’re a leader.

Just because you have a certain title, it doesn’t mean that you’re better than other people. You don’t want to be the guy that thinks just because he has the title everyone should bow down and show him respect. All that attitude gets you is contempt. If you have that mentality, you need to be replaced.

Of course, you probably have skills and experience that caused you to be put in the leadership position. But no one knows everything.

So keep an open mind. You can learn from other people. 

Listen to what others have to say.

When you get a suggestion, don’t just brush it off. Don’t automatically assume that you’re the only one who can come up with the winning idea. You’ll never get better that way.

In fact, in my experience, some of our best ideas have come from some of our newest and lowest level people. Maybe it’s because they were looking at the situation with fresh eyes.

Winners follow people with successful track records.

Why do you think I’ve done a Monday morning call with all the top leaders in Primerica every week, even 30 years before the Big Hitter Call?

I did this to constantly pick the brains of people at the top.

I didn’t make these calls to chit-chat or waste my time. I wanted to learn how they think and learn what they see. I wanted my team to listen so they could learn at the same time.

This helped me discover their thinking behind the actions that give them superior results and helped my team constantly improve as well. 

Stop Setting Limits for People

Boy climbing mountain using cables.Image source: https://www.earthtrekkers.com/climbing-half-dome-cables-photos/

Don’t put people in boxes.

Who are you to tell someone what they can’t do? I always believed that the worst sin in management was to think too small. Every year I challenged myself to set goals for the team so that nobody could ever accuse me of underestimating our potential.

Instead, show them how they can accomplish their goals.

Leaders set up the people in their life for success.

Recognize what people are good at. Then figure out how to give them achievable projects and tasks based on their appropriate skill sets.

Find ways to give them more of this specific type of work. This way they’ll be able to succeed and build confidence.

Recognize their high achievements with comments and compliments. This will show them you’re actually paying attention and delegating tasks efficiently.

Don’t just tell people, “you’re doing a great job.”

Make sure that your feedback is meaningful and specific. Then everything you say will be much more effective than just giving empty praise.

The way to let people know you really value and appreciate something they did is to notice it and mention it to them specifically.

I really appreciate how quickly you handled that customer’s problem. I really appreciated how fast you got that letter out. I noticed the extra effort you made to get that project done. That meant a lot to me, and I wanted you to know.

Comments like that create a bond and show you are really paying attention to what people are doing, rather than just sprinkling comments all over the room. Everybody is great. La di da. That means nothing.

Be Resourceful

When things go wrong, don’t quit, don’t whine, don’t give up.

You need to learn how to adjust. Embed these terms into your mind so you can persevere through challenges.

  • Rethink
  • Reprogram
  • Reload
  • Reboot
  • Refocus
  • Relaunch

Be resourceful. Be determined.

Things aren’t always going to come easy. If they did, everyone would be able to do it.

Don’t panic. When times get tough, leaders know how to overcome obstacles by taking advantage of every available resource. Think outside of the box.

The road is never smooth. There are always unique twists and turns.

You have to stay alert. You must be at your best. Stay awake and focused at the wheel.

Keep an eagle eye out so you can make the decisions and actions along the way that will give you the best chances to be successful. 

Things are constantly moving and changing. Challenges never end. Leaders know how to be resourceful when faced with adversity.

Control Your Emotions

Don’t wear your emotions on your sleeves.

Leaders remain professional at all times. They stay cool and calm under pressure because they are the ones who have to come up with a logical solution as to what the next step forward needs to be. 

When was the last time you saw a great leader throw a fit or a temper tantrum? It just doesn’t happen.

I’m not saying that you need to bury your emotions. That’s not healthy, productive, or effective either. Instead, you just need to figure out the appropriate place and methods to express and cope with your emotions. Learn how successful people stay calm.

Take a look at this infographic about the importance of emotional intelligence compared to IQ.

Emotional Quotient vs. Intelligence QuotientResearch shows that people with high emotional intelligence know how to effectively take leadership roles.

Managers with well-developed emotional intelligence skills outperform their annual revenue targets.

The biggest difference between average managers and winning managers is emotional intelligence scores.

Once you are able to recognize your own emotions and how they impact other people, it will be much easier for you to be a successful leader.  

Learn How to Retain Talent

It takes a team to do great things. You must have a team to lean on if you want to be a winner.

Leaders know how important the people around them are. Building the right team will set you up for success, so don’t take those people for granted.

Recognize talent and learn how to retain it.

Form relationships with people who make you better and contribute to the success of your company.

Make them feel welcome. Show them they have a future with the company. Give them incentives to succeed and stay with you.

If you’re a jerk and people feel like they are working a dead-end job, they have no reason to stay with you. Don’t let your talent churn. Harness it and use it to your advantage.

Give Credit Instead of Taking It

Image source: http://thebasicsite.org/passing-the-leadership-baton/

Leaders give credit where credit is due.

Sometimes, being in charge means that you get the most recognition for the efforts of your team, but you wouldn’t be where you are today without other people.

You don’t need to seek the spotlight. Instead, find ways to let it shine on others.

Don’t take credit for the work that other people did.

If you’re in a position where you win an award or have a chance to speak on a public forum, use the word “we” when talking about success.

The best leaders only use the word, “I” when taking responsibility for failures.

When things go wrong, that’s your chance to speak up and be in the spotlight, even if it’s for a negative reason. Don’t pass the blame onto others.

People on your team will respect you for standing up for them instead of making them look bad. Great coaches do this all of the time in sports.

When their team makes crucial errors that cause them to lose the game, they don’t blame specific players. They say things like, “I need to do a better job as a coach calling the plays.”

But when the team wins, they say, “Those guys did a great job out there. They deserve all of the credit.”

Find ways to apply this analogy to your own life in your existing leadership roles.

Become a Leader Today

Leadership isn’t something that happens overnight.

But, with that said, it has to start somewhere. You need to start making changes today if you want to be a leader tomorrow.

Use this guide as a reference to show you the steps you need to take to achieve your goals and lead people around you.

Recognize what you’re doing wrong, and learn how to change those bad habits for the better.

If you can grow in these areas that I’ve discussed above, then you can become a leader.

What’s stopping you from becoming a leader? What do you need to do to change this? Let me know about this process by sharing your story in the comments section.

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